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Published: September 13th 2019
We’re up at 4.30am for a long day of travelling home. I accidentally push the alarm button on the hire car, so we suspect that the rest of the guests at our previously quiet Kauai hotel are now also awake. We drive away quickly before we manage to wreak any further havoc. We get to the airport as the sun is coming up, and if we needed any more reminding that the whole island seems to be overrun with wild chickens it comes in the form of multiple roosters crowing very loudly to greet the new day.
It is 11 September and we pause for half a minute’s silence at Honolulu airport at 8.45am, which was apparently the exact time that the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Centre back in 2001.
We arrive in Sydney feeling a bit zombie-like after our ten hour flight. Why does Australia have to be so far from the rest of the world. It gets worse from there. I hadn't taken a lot of notice of the flight that our travel agent had booked for the short final leg from Sydney to Melbourne, but it seems we have a five hour layover. This is a bit frustrating given these flights leave roughly every half hour during most of the day, and a request for a transfer to an earlier flight falls on deaf ears as apparently we have inflexible tickets. To make matters even worse the flight is delayed by an hour, which wouldn't normally be an issue, but Sydney airport has a curfew, and if we haven't taken off by exactly 11pm we'll be stuck here for the night. They take this curfew time very seriously. Scott's a bit of an aviation buff, and he tells us that he read somewhere that an Emirates jet cleared the airport boundary at about 30 seconds past 11pm one night, and they were fined millions of dollars. I remember coming back from a business trip from here many years ago, and all the passengers got onto the plane in plenty of time, but then the luggage couldn't be loaded because of a massive thunderstorm. The pilot told us that as it was approaching curfew time, if the storm didn't stop in the next few minutes he'd need to unload us all and send us off to hotels for the night. The only other option was to get the Federal Transport Minister out of his warm bed in Canberra, and request special permission to have the curfew extended by fifteen minutes. We were told this was usually only granted in exceptional circumstances. Fortunately the Minister was in a good mood that night and it all ended happily. Tonight the airline is clearly running very close to the wind. We charge away from the gate almost before everyone's taken their seats, and the safety briefing and takeoff seem to merge into one. We make it with less than four minutes to spare. Our brains have now moved beyond the zombie state and I think mine might have stopped working altogether; we've been on the go for a bit over 25 hours when our heads finally hit the pillow back home in Melbourne.
Our three month lap of the globe is over.
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